Kyeygegwa district has a total population of (408,700) of which males are 205,600 and female 203,100. The annual population growth rate is 7.3%, the district has a high fertility rate of 7.8 children per womanwhich is far above the rate of investment in service provision like water, health and education. The district is comprised of 91% rural population with only 9 percent of the population in the urban areas. Overall, children below 18 years constitute about 51% of the population. This population structure will continue to be youthful in the coming years and this poses a big population problem of high dependency ratio and requires the district to invest in services for children for example, education, health (immunization) etc. The district has an estimated 123,000 refugees mainly from neighboring DRC and a few from Rwanda and Burundi, these refugee represents about 23% of the district population.
The increasing number of refugees in the district has increased pressure on education services, existing schools are overstretched, and the education system cannot not cope with the large numbers of children with various learning needs. As a result, UN agencies and NGO partners are responding to these needs by providing support to government schools and establishing schools in the refugee settlements. However, there are major gaps as the educational needs of refugee children outweigh by far the available resources and capacities.
There is a high level of vulnerability among refugee population in the refugee settlements; According to UNHCR at least 39% (15,951) of people in the vulnerable households in the settlement are from female headed households and up to 50% (20,236) are from male headed households. This level of vulnerability has significant negative implications for household resilience with severe consequences for children.
The Government of Uganda is giving the highest priority to the expansion and strengthening of access and quality in primary education, post primary education and training. The Government of Uganda undertakes its role as a regulatory authority in pre-primary education, while the implementation of pre-primary education is the duty of parents and guardians. These services are in refugee-hosting areas majorly established and offered by non-state actors contributing to the fulfillment of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Policy, 2007, which makes it had to be accessed by refugees due to high vulnerabilities and limited income.
Records from UNHCR show that at least 79% of the refugee population in Kyaka II settlement are women and children. Including 13,232 refugee children between 3 to 5 years and supposed to be enrolled in ECD centres. However only 2,954 are registered with various centres within the settlement, covering only 22,3% of the actual population of children in the settlement.
In response to that critical need in early childhood education in the Settlement YIDA has initiated three ECD Centres and trained up to 36 youth providing community based care protection in the three ECD’s. it’s sad that most of the school enrolled children didn’t benefit from the continuous learning during the lock down, except around 930(31.4%) children that YIDA has been providing the door to door home learning from 4 ECD”s with one from the host community. YIDA is glad and commended for giving support in way that no NGO, no Agency that did it in such benefiting manner.YIDA distributed Hand washing facilities and Soaps (to maintain hygiene during pandemic) to every beneficiary of home learning, home learning package (including package of crayon, pencils, and rubber), and Parents boost guide for ECD (prepared by the National curriculum development Centre (NCDC)), with regular visit and monitoring of caregivers. This is unique.
In the next years to come, we need to reach more than 12000 children and build capacity of existing centres running under standardized procedures. YIDA together with District local government authority is committed to do its best towards the wellbeing and early strong foundation of education to the majority of the displaced children and host community around Kyaka II. It’s our prayer that well-wishers, NGOs and Agencies may turn their eyes to support this category of underserved people.